The year in democracy


In the beginning, there was disagreement.

The first session of the first Parliament of the Dominion of Canada was called for the “despatch of business” at 3pm on the November 6, 1867. Specifically, the duly elected members convened that day for the purposes of choosing a speaker. John A. Macdonald spoke first that Wednesday, nominating James Cockburn. George Etienne Cartier stood to second the motion. And it was then, on this necessary first bit of business, that the House encountered its first dispute—Conservative MP Joseph Dufresne of Montcalm, Quebec, rising to lament that Mr. Cockburn could not speak French. “He thought it was to be regretted that, at the inauguration of a new system, greater respect was not shown to Lower Canada in this matter,” the journals report. “He looked upon this as a matter of national feeling.”

Nonetheless, after Mr. Cartier assured the House that Mr. Cockburn could at least understand French, the House unanimously elected its first Speaker. The House then adjourned until the next afternoon when the Governor General was scheduled to deliver the Speech from the Throne.

Debate on the address began on Friday at 3pm. But after just two interventions, business was interrupted so that Prime Minister Macdonald might explain why the minister of finance and the secretary of state for the provinces had just resigned. The ensuing discussion took up most of the afternoon, so it was only after dinner that Joseph Howe was given time to explain his objections to confederation.

The people of Nova Scotia, he said, “had been legislated into this House against their wills.” “With these remarks as to his own position he would proceed to the subject before the House, the consideration of His Excellency’s Speech,” the official record recounts. “As a public man of some experience he thought discussion on the speech a mere waste of time, but with respect to the speech now before the House, matter had been introduced which challenged the correctness of the view of the people of Nova Scotia, and, therefore, called upon them for discussion.”

He regretted, he said, some of what he had heard from Charles Fisher in the day’s first speech. “His honourable friend had said that party feeling should be laid aside, and it might be laid aside by his honourable friend, but with respect to this House he feared his dream would not be realized,” Mr. Howe explained. “There would be two altars in this House, the worshippers of which would be as far from agreeing as were those at the first two altars erected on this earth—the altars of Cain and Abel.” This drew laughter.

The topic here was actually something like original sin: this House gathered here after the Mother Parliament had allegedly failed to exercise due diligence and perhaps been misled as well. “He was in the House of Lords when the Act of Confederation was passed, and though that body consists of 400 members there were only ten members present at the third reading. If this had been a small matter affecting the slightest interest of one Peer of the realm there would have been a commission, or a committee of inquiry before Legislation had been allowed to pass,” Mr. Howe apparently ventured. “With respect to the House of Commons, though the members did attend in their places the question was not discussed. Men like John Stuart Mill, who had studied subject of Government nearly all their lives, might have come down with their views on this subject, but the House of Commons had not given the attention it deserved. The House owed it to the Empire, it owed it to the North American Colonies, that a full investigation should have been made before the measure was passed, and perhaps amendments might have been introduced that would have rendered it acceptable. One member of the House of Commons had actually stated that the question had been discussed at every hustings in Nova Scotia, a statement which the people of Nova Scotia had shown to be utterly untrue.”

He would go on to explain at length his objections to the current situation. (Up to and including the postal system: “No poor widow, keeping a forty shilling a year way office can look for appointment or preferment except through the favour of some gentleman in Ottawa.”) He is said to have spoken for an hour and forty minutes and “was listened to with great attention.” “He made many capital hits, and was warmly applauded on resuming his seat,” the official record states. “In conclusion, the
mere parchment does not make a Union, the Act of Parliament does not create harmony,” he is reported to have said. “The Act might be acceptable to the Canadians, and why not? They obtain a vast seaboard, they extend their limits, and had they done it fairly and honourably no man with a head on his shoulders would have complained. But the people of his own Province had been tricked into this scheme, and he very much regretted that it had not been approached in a manner which might have led to the perfecting of a measure which would have rendered unnecessary such a speech as he had been compelled to make.”

After two more speeches, including a thorough response from Charles Tupper, the House adjourned for the weekend at 11:30pm.

From this mess, the torch was passed, be it ours to somehow keep from being extinguished.

The House of Commons, not to mention the country for which it was created to represent, persisted. It persisted through 1868, when the first omnibus bill—An Act to continue for a limited time the several Acts therein mentioned—was tabled. It persisted through 1916, when fire destroyed the chamber. It persisted through 1923, when the Senate rejected as too broad an omnibus bill that would’ve allowed for the construction of 29 new railway lines. It persisted through 1982, when the opposition walked out of the House and refused to return for two weeks, eventually compelling the government to split the Energy Security Act into eight separate bills. It persisted through 1990 when Liberal Senators played kazoos to delay the passage of legislation on the GST. It persisted through 1999 when Reform MPs compelled votes on 471 amendments to hold up the Nis’ga treaty.

It persists now, amid much stated concern about its function, ability, purpose and power.

Last year was thought to have been a low point—the first government in history to be found in contempt of Parliament subsequently elected with a majority. On various counts, this year could be said to have been worse.

That majority government pushed two omnibus budget bills, each more than 400 pages, through the House. The Parliamentary Budget Officer was stymied and scoffed at by the government that created the office. The Auditor General found that Parliament had not been fully informed about the cost of the F-35 procurement. The finance minister once again provided his fall update to an audience far away from here. The Government House leader caused a bit of a commotion with some finger-wagging and swearing, while the chamber was regularly reduced to the stage for a poorly acted farce. That House leader made frequent use of time allocation to limit debate. Elsewhere, the provinces of Ontario and British Columbia were respectively deprived the luxury of a functioning legislature.

But here, this year, there was a fight. Unburdened without the possibility of an election, the opposition parties acted to make passing those omnibus bills at least a prolonged and public inconvenience, ensuring that neither passed without wider notice. The Parliamentary Budget Officer pressed on, seemingly undaunted. The Auditor General brought something like the truth to bear on the F-35 file. The Internet forced (or helped to force) the Public Safety Minister to retreat. Doctors interrupted cabinet ministers. Scientists marched on the Hill. And after #TellVicEverything, there was Black Out Speak Out and #IdleNoMore. And now there is this hunger strike.

If our democracy is not quite the vibrant construct we wish it was, there are glimmers. The government and the official opposition are led respectively by erudite policy wonks who like to imagine themselves as pugilists in the rhetorical ring—and for the first time this particular former has a comparable rival in the latter. Elizabeth May has taken up residence in the far corner and made parliamentary democracy her cause. Megan Leslie often asks questions and Michelle Rempel periodically responds. The chair of the ethics committee is 21 years old and among the most prominent members of the official opposition are half a dozen women who were born in the 1980s. Brent Rathgeber has a blog. Michael Chong and Irwin Cotler are still here, as are various other men and women of whom their constituents can be proud. And by next summer the third party will likely be led by either a man blessed of good genes, great hair and immense potential or an astronaut.

So if it is not all good, it is also not all bad. But if this past year was about anything it was that fight—those fights and that they were had and what they might amount to. In those hours and hours and hours of standing and sitting and standing and sitting for C-38 and C-45 was something like the essence of parliamentary democracy: the governing party testing the limits of what it might get away with and the opposition doing everything in its power to subject the government’s actions to scrutiny. In the Parliamentary Budget Officer and the Auditor General were necessary stalwarts. In the hashtags and shouting was the public, or at least segments thereof, imposing itself on the proceedings. The fight is not quite an end in itself. It should amount to something. Change, if decided to be necessary, must be realized. The process of perfecting this grand measure requires more than 140 characters. But it is the fight that keeps this blessed mess alive and the flame lit. Short of utopia, the fight must be had, over and over and over. (We might wish that the fight was fought on nicer or wittier terms, but we should neither expect nor desire that advancing ourselves forward won’t involve some kind of fight.)

A few months after the 2011 election, after the principles of Westminster democracy were apparently set aside in favour of a strong, stable, national government, a sizeable number of citizens paused to mourn the passing of a thoroughly political man—an individual whose last act as leader of the official opposition was to launch a 58-hour filibuster. If that week of public recognition seemed to show we were not quite yet entirely consumed by cynicism, 2012 perhaps showed the fight is not yet out of us.

You are free to despair for it all. But at least so long as the fight goes on, there is the possibility of a more perfect democracy.


The year in democracy

  1. There’s an old saying that you should ‘begin as you mean to go on’……and that they did.

    A century and a half of complaints and arguments later…… they haven’t changed a bit.

    It’s why I’m an Ontario separatist.

  2. What can one say after all that?… but…Amen!

  3. The fight goes on but there is no plan. It’s like Marshal Ney on the retreat from Moscow. All honour to the bravest of the brave, but it’s not like he turned the tide. Likewise these actions merely prevent outright dictatorship. But where is the PLAN to restore real democracy? Give me that and I will postpone despair.

  4. Thanks Aaron, both entertaining and enlightening.

  5. En Avant
    “But where is the PLAN to restore real democracy? Give me that and I will postpone despair.”

    The plan is to continue to divide and conquer all opposition and the counter attack is to put aside policy issues and unite under common cause to introduce electoral reform as the first order of business, and then to hold the next election, whenever it may come, under the new rules.

    For the first time in Canadian history a political party has thrown open the selection of a leader to anyone to vote who is not a current member of another federal political party. Since memberships renew at the start of the year, virtually anyone can vote for the next leader for free, so long as the do not pay for a membership in a competing party. The opportunity for a surprise outcome based on mass participation by nonpartisan Canadians does not and has not ever existed before in any other party. That fact alone should give everyone pause to consider other changes that may improve our democracy and what steps need to be taken to elect as the next Liberal party leader the candidate that will make the bravest, least partisan and most democratic proposals. Once that is accomplished, those of us who really believe in democracy, can work to elect similar leadership in the other parties as they will be forced to evolve as well in order to survive.

    • None of the Liberal candidates is proposing a merger. Without a merger, the CPC wins. If the CPC wins, nothing changes. It’s that simple.

      I have just spent a sad 20 minutes reading the would-be LPC leaders’ policy platforms. Closest to a clear statement is from Joyce Murray: “For the 2015 election, I will leave the door open to respond to local riding situations and engage in electoral cooperation if that is the request on the ground.” That’s what qualifies as a radical, urgent message from the Liberal party.

      The irony is that Harper may well care the most about democracy in Canada, compared to the LPC and NDP leadership. Ponder that one.

      • Two of the candidates are pushing the Knowledge economy….and THAT is important.

        • Nothing is important if they don’t win. That is the take-away from Wherry’s post. The CPC is not going to be “influenced” by an LPC party’s themes and concerns like in Ye Olden Dayes.

          Another thing that jumped out at me about the would-be LPC leaders’ manifestoes is how they all harp on how uncivil and unprim and improper we’ve all become. Apparently they are the Messiah to magically restore Canadian civility even while out of power. That view is so irresponsibly naive it seriously makes you wonder if they are patriotic.

          • All politicians….and all Canadians….are going to have to deal with the knowledge economy. It would be nice if we had a leader to get things done.

            They’re stressing what clods the Cons are…uncivilized, and Canada is famous for being civilized.

            Patriotic? Whut??

          • No, EmilyOne, they’ve pushed the narrative that all non-progressive parties are the domain of the unhinged, the religious and the ignorant. Once you begin to view the world through a lens not created by the progressive media, it makes much more sense.

          • ‘Progress’ is what the world has been pursuing for 10,000 years.

            Saying you’re not ‘progressive’ tells people what you are right there.

          • EmilyOne, there is a difference between naming something and being something. I can bring a horse and cart out onto the street and convince people this is the “progressive” way forward. Get a few celebrities to endorse it, and the media to run a campaign and Bob’s Your Uncle, horse and carts are now progressive.

          • LOL Having a little fun today are you?

          • Trying to get people to think outside the box.

          • There is no box…..but people still look for one to hide in.

          • 10,000 years?
            Source please.

          • I don’t think Emily meant you

          • Oh, I’m sorry, I thought Emily was sent here by Dave Axelrod and the Georger Soros Acorn/Tides Foundation to educate the unwashed masses on the topic of “progressive” thought and successful electioneering.

            I know Justin hired them and Dalton and of course Jack, they did a terrific job for Jack in Quebec.

            But if there are “sources” you don’t want the little simple people to see, I guess that’s how it will have to be.

          • Given Emily’s stance on China and it’s links with the present Canadian Reform government and corporate culture in general, I think you might be over simplifying things a tad, if not getting it all pretty downright wrong.
            Add to that your undoubted penchant for conspiracy theories and your apparent self appointment as a spoke person for average person and it would appear that you are from the more unhinged segment of the right wing.
            As you an imagine, that is up against some pretty stiff opposition

          • Another import from the EU is the civil dialogue amongst politicians. “No” is not allowed. Any EU meeting must be a meeting of the minds. It is expected that everyone will find a common cause to unite under or the meeting will be disbanded in quick order with a pronouncement that they will meet again when there has been some thought put into it. That is why David Cameron’s “no” to banking regulation had the EU in a tizzy. It was the equivalent of showing your ankle in Victorian times. Shameful. Angela Merkel decried the lack of “solidarity” coming from Cameron.

          • Cameron panders too much. The UK does 40% of it’s trade with the EU, and yet refuses to join in any of the hard decisions needed. So it’s time to fish or cut bait.

            Otherwise, they’ll end up like Norway….trade but no input.

            In the UKs case, it means they’ll be a theme park off the coast of Europe.

          • And if they need a clown for their theme park, will you be available or are you making too much money here?

          • You’re right about civility only it’s Harper and the boys who clutch their pearls at the first sign of being called out for their behaviour.

            I’d do away with the rule about not being able to call a liar a liar. Then every single shill in parliament who fails to answer the question as asked can be called what they are.

        • What’s your plan for survival in a “Knowledge” economy?

      • “Harper may well care the most about democracy in Canada”. What planet are you living on En Avant?

        There does not have to be a merger at all, in fact, that would be worse as it would leave us with a two party system which is exactly what the Conservatives goal is. Co-operation holding real primary elections to select a unity candidate with a commitment that all other policies will be set aside until an election reform and perhaps a citizen initiative laws are passed. In that way Canadians could trust and believe the message and once in power, the parties would have to pass the legislation before they did anything else. Simple effective and democratic. What is the problem? Oh I see, it might just work and we cannot have that can we?

        • Why is it that a system that has worked for us for over one hundred years is somehow suspect now that a progressive party is not in power? I guess you preferred three flavours of vanilla rather than vanilla, chocolate and strawberry.

          • Why is it when anyone leading any political party gets a majority, supporters abandon all notions of evolution and change? Just because 100 years ago, only property owners got into the senate or only men could vote does not mean that it was right. I was a supporter of Peter Pocklington in the 1993 Federal P.C. Leadership race and to this day have not found an acceptable candidate for leadership of any of the so-called Conservative parties that followed, because they were not interested in reforming our democracy, just in power. For the record, I was one of the founders of the movement that united the right, but my take on things was the need for electoral reform not a merger, a position that has not changed in almost thirty years. I even co-wrote a book about it in 1993, almost twenty years ago. So much for being a Saturday morning quarterback preferring three flavours.

          • I was asking a rhetorical question, not questioning you. First past the post works. The EU is in a complete shambles due to their multi-party, decision making process that goes nowhere except round in circles. Allowing political parties to pick representatives from a slate of candidates who did nothing except donate to the party is also reprehensible. I also dislike the fact a multi-party system can allow for splitting the vote. Say Party A stands for X but X is unpopular, and Party B doesn’t like X. By the creation of faux parties who appeal to a demographic (Party A1 and Party A2), the election can be won by Party B but the combined vote of A, A1 and A2 allows it to gain power and pass X. The people voting for A1 and A2 didn’t realize they stood for X as well. I don’t find any of this ethical.

          • Thank you for the clarification.

            Are you aware of the lifes work done on the subject of “Heresthetics” and the book, “The Art of Political Manipulation” (ISBN: 9780300061697) by the late William Riker, who was one of the leading scholars on “positive political theory,” or the Rational Choice School of political science. He developed a theory of political action based on a skill he called heresthetics: structuring the world so you can win. Positive political theory has three central assumptions:

            1) Rationality-individuals make reasoned decisions;

            2) Component analysis-only small parts of a system are important in predicting human behavior; and

            3) Strategic behavior-individuals take into account what others may do before making decisions (interaction as opposed to action). All three assumptions play an important role in his model and attempt to answer the question: Does a distinctly political kind of behavior exist? Riker’s answer is yes: heresthetics. Riker coined this term from a Greek root meaning “choosing and electing.” For Riker, the rational political person wants to win at the game of politics. How they win is using rhetoric (verbal skill in persuasion) and heresthetics (structuring the process so one may win) to build effective coalitions.

            Riker begins his foundation with David Easton’s model of allocations. Easton claims politics is the authoritative allocation of value. Demands, resources, and support enter the decision-making process and the outputs become the allocation of values, the allocation of costs, the mobilization of resources, and the maintenance of the system. Within the decision-making process, Riker says decisions on such allocation may be classified as:

            A. Those made by individuals

            B. Those made by groups

            1. Those made by conscious process

            2. Those made in a quasi-mechanical way

            B.1. represents the acts of coalitions, which make up most decision making in political settings (even in authoritarian regimes). Within groups, smaller groups make the actual decisions. These smaller groups are called coalitions. So Riker focuses his study of the decision-making process on coalitions. Riker found a model for decision making in coalitions in the Von Neumann-Morgenstern theory of n-person games, in which agents attempt to “win” by creating groups, i.e. coalitions. Game theory also involves the idea of zero-sum games, in which only two agents compete and one must lose. N-person games allow for a distribution of value–a group can win without necessarily taking value away from the opposing group(s).

            There is the way out of the swamp that our democracy has fallen into. Knowledge is power, period. Knowing how to win and doing whatever it takes to do it has become the mantra of politics and we have last any notion of a properly functioning representative government. As I said in the beginning of my comments, with virtually anyone being able to vote for the next leader of the liberal party of Canada, without being a member or spending a dime to do it, the possibilities for a surprising outcome that may change the way we do politics in Canada forever is real and apparent. All that is needed is for a small percentage of the 99% of Canadians who are not members of any political party to vote and that alone will be a game changer, regardless of who wins. Remember, power is the goal and when the brain trust in the Conservative party sees this wave coming, they will try to ride it, as they did in the past, not get swamped by it, as they did in the past as well. Think about 1993 when the governing party went from 211 to 2 seats, while that result is unlikely with the split of the vote on the middle left, a majority of the members of Parliament elected in 2015 in favour of electoral reform and willing to put such legislation on the front burner is much more likely.

          • No, I hadn’t heard of this theory but it makes sense. However, it puts the public at a great disadvantage. They don’t have the collective freedom to devise a ploy to win as compared to the back room strategists that are paid to win. This is why the public is turning off. I myself voted for an off the wall party this time around rather than the big three and I will continue to do so.

            As for the Liberals, I believe their great democracy experiment is only a way to get a donors list. The candidates who run will be vetted to make sure that they have a solid gold Liberal before the public ever gets a chance to decide. There isn’t one candidate that the Liberals have put forth so far that says “statesman”. They are all talking parrots.

          • Yes, but that is the whole point. If you follow the leader you end up at the slaughterhouse. We need to focus on policy not good looks or media prognostications. I left the federal P.C.s the day Brian Mulroney won the leadership and was a founding candidate for the Green Party in the 1983 Federal election. I joined the Ontario P.C. party after the defeat of a 40 year dynasty lead by Frank Miller and after Larry Grossman won the leadership, not because I agreed with all his policies, but because many of them were outside of the box and the old boys network in the party was no longer in control and there was a chance for things to be done differently moving ahead. I won the 1987 Provincial P.C. nomination in an unwinnable riding.

            The only time to become involved in a political party is when they are not in power, except in an open convention, so like-minded people went to work changing the P.C. party constitution and Mike Harris was elected leader in a new one-person-one-vote process. I ran again as a P.C. candidate in 1990 in an unwinnable riding, but this time I painted my campaign signs “Blue with a bright green bottom” and ran as a Green Tory, something that before this would have not been allowed, and that violated party rules that only allowed the use of the colour blue on campaign materials. By the time the 1995 election came around, I was working in the polling business, the party agenda had been taken over by insiders and the likelihood of a big P.C. majority became apparent. I did not run, but I, like millions of other Ontario voters believed Harris shared our progressive vision when he said as the basis for his “Common Sense Resolution” would be to introduce a citizens referendum law to make sure not only he would keep his promises but most importantly, all that followed would be held accountable as well. Sounded wonderful. Unfortunately, after having committee hearings on it, drafting legislation and winning a second majority government, Premier Harris abandoned that promise, and others such as balancing the budget and cutting spending, and I went to work convincing the next heir to the throne, Liberal Leader Dalton McGuinty, to run in the next election on a promise of a referendum on electoral reform, which at least he half heartedly kept when he got his majority. After that his thirst for such notions waned.

            Voters in BC went through three majority governments promising various reforms before they voted over 80% in favour in the 1991 British Columbia recall and initiative referendum. As the Socreds who introduced the referendum had been defeated in the concurrent election, the incoming NDP government was not required to enable recall and initiative, however, Premier-elect Mike Harcourt announced that his government would be bound by the results and the Recall and Initiative Act was passed and entered into force on February 24, 1995.

            So the bottom line for me from decades of personal experience is rapidly reaching the point where I will determine once and for all, a slight modification of the answer Lyndon B. Johnston gave when he was asked why he put his enemies in his cabinet, and my take will be, you are better off outside the tent pissing in, than inside the tent getting pissed on, or off because you get no relief. But, then the Liberal Party of Canada opens up the tent to virtually everyone, and risked the chance that the result will be every one will want to come in and perhaps there will no longer be a need for a pissing contest at all.

          • Well, Greg, unfortunately after watching the disasters of McGuinty and Clarke who prefer to run away than deal with their legislatures, I’m not about to give a Liberal house room for a long, long time.

          • As I said above, the only time to become involved in a political party is when they have been eviscerated or wiped off the map, which is not likely in the upcoming Ontario or BC provincial elections, although it is increasingly likely both Liberal governments will be defeated.

            The date to buy a party membership to vote in or to enter the Ontario Liberal leadership race has passed and the field contains only former Cabinet Ministers although there are some fresh ideas being bandied about. About 30% of the 2,500 voting delegates are not elected and are appointed ex-officio, and since only members can vote for leadership delegates the opportunity for any surprises is very limited.

            Ontario Liberal leadership candidate Gerard Kennedy has called for recall legislation and Charles Sousa has proposed measures including free votes on all bills except money bills and major party policies. Sousa’s suggestions also include minor obligations to listen to party members and let them have greater say in policy, but he does not go as far as saying that he, as premier and leader, and the party will be bound by party policy, something that surprisingly was promised by former Liberal party of Canada Leader Michael Ignatieff in the 2011 federal election and not reported. It appears that so far no one in any of these present leadership races is prepared to go this far, talk about electoral reform, nor are they willing to champion measures to really open the party tent for fear of alienating their partisan core members or other candidates.

            There is a good chance that things may change after the new leader is elected and that he or she may try a Hail Mary pass like Socred Premier Rita Johnston did in BC in 1991, but unless the next Ontario election is fought on narrow grounds designed to neuter all the parties, the outcome is pretty much assured to not include a Liberal majority and to be a new government of some sort.

            As I see it, the best trap the next premier of Ontario can set for the opposition is one that has two sides that gets one leg of each of the leaders of the NDP and PCs. Recall the legislature as soon as the leadership is won, regardless of if the leader holds a seat and introduce a two part bill. The first part mirrors the Citizen initiative and referendum law drafted by the Mike Harris government, that the Tim Hudak led PC party must vote in favour of and the NDP will likely oppose, and the second part that mirrors the electoral reform bill proposed as a result of the Ontario Citizens Assembly, which the Horwath led NDP must support and the PC party will oppose. By introducing such a bill, and changes to the standing orders of the legislature at Queens Park, allowing free votes on everything but budget votes, allowing the opposition to amend legislation and pass it without the government falling, and limiting elections except when a vote of confidence necessitates one, the Liberals can perhaps survive to fight another day. Absent such radical moves to share power and governance in ways that cannot easily be undone the Liberal party of Ontario is not likely to get a majority, or form a government.

            As far as the situation in BC is concerned, it is already too late, a two party system is going to emerge after the next election and majorities will be the norm for a generation or two. Thankfully, they have evolved their democracy way beyond the rest of us in Canada and they have several direct democracy tools they have used already, they will use them again, and no government will try to take them away.

      • You have to understand that the Liberals have no policies because they get their policies from the UN. This has gone completely under the radar for the last sixty years. Why do you think we had all those years of peacekeeping under the Libs. Why are the Liberal Party movers and shakers the most aggressive supporters of all things UN – Maurice Strong, Lester Pearson, Lloyd Axworthy, Pierre Trudeau and now his son Justin, Bob Rae et al. Liberal/Democratic parties around the world are hell bent on a global government as pushed by their parent organization Liberal International.

        From their Oxford Manifesto of 1997 “We believe that close cooperation among democratic societies through global and regional organizations (no mention of nations), within the framework of international law, of respect for human rights, the rights of national and ethnic minorities, and of a shared commitment to economic development worldwide, is the necessary foundation for world peace and for economic and environmental sustainability… the strengthening of international law and of global and regional institutions (no mention of nations)…Liberals are committed to strengthen global governance through the United Nations and through regional cooperation (no mention of nations). We call on all governments to join in the initiative to establish an international criminal court with jurisdiction over war criminals. Our objective in the 21st century is to build a liberal world order securely based upon the rule of law and backed by appropriate global and regional institutions.”

        And that is why Liberals never divulge their policies. They don’t have any national ones as they are not interested in the nation state. If we can remember, Ignatieff was an Isiah Berlin scholar and Berlin lectures are high up at Liberal International. Ignatieff couldn’t bring himself to really get concerned about Canada. He was much happier dragging international human rights into Parliament than dealing with the issues on the ground. Liberals will promise anything to get back into power because the game is all about global governance and carving the world into regions.

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